The Austin Chronicle

Arts Review

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, March 18, 2005, Arts

At Home With Dick

3309 Grooms, through March 26

Running Time: 1 hr, 30 min

Leave it to the Rubber Repertory. In town just a few years, yet they're the ones who bring a gem of Austin history back to a public-performance setting. OK, recent history, because the heyday of Dick Price's Dial-a-Tune service was just down the block in 1991.

Ah, Dial-a-Tune. You could call the number provided (in Chronicle ads, on T-shirts, on posters around town), and you'd hear a new song every single day. There was just one man behind all this songwriting, singing, and sprightly keyboard virtuosity, and that man was Dick Price. He'd record a song about cheerleaders from hell or the girlfriend who broke his heart or how much laundry he still had to wash or how much acid he'd dropped the week before, and there it would be, waiting on his answering machine for the several dozens of people who called each day. Week after week after week.

But that was years ago, and Price has been out of the scene, out of the public ear, you might say, for a long time. (Well, except for the odd concert or airplay on The Dr. Demento Show, where his weirder tunes have delighted who knows how many twisted listeners over the past decade and a half.)

And now he's back, if only briefly, as wrangled by Rubber Repertory's Josh Meyer. And each night of the show, a mere 16 people (so make your reservations early, yo) get to enter Price's humble home and be serenaded while learning the man's audio and (choice parts of his) personal history. You'll be taken from the lyric-sheet-bedecked living room to the pierogi-sheltering kitchen to the almost spartan bedroom, and in each place you'll be entertained by this utterly charming, musically adept goofball. That final stop, the bedroom, appropriately features a medley called "The Sexual History of Richard Price," which is perforce more sentimental and intimate but no less laugh-inducing than the first two sections of musical whimsy.

At Home With Dick, approximately an hour and a half of the songs and memories of a funny and very talented man with (these days) white hair, a ready smile, and a brace of clever keyboards, is the sort of thing that's implied by the best interpretation of the phrase "Keep Austin Weird."

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